Do you want to learn together with your students?

z 07 October 2019

Do you want to learn together with your students?

Some thoughts and tips from Pål Berglund, 7th-grade teacher and LearnLab content creator.
photo of Pål Berglund

"To be a teacher is in truth to be the learning one", said Kierkegaard 150 years ago. Wise people existed back then as well. To be a teacher does not mean that you must know everything. Besides, the students learning is occurring inside their heads, not on the outside.

The students need tasks where they can process their understanding together with others. This enables them to obtain and use knowledge to solve issues in familiar and unfamiliar contexts and situations. It takes both understanding, reflection and training in critical thinking. Teachers who search for these coherencies and situations trough problem seeking curiosity together with the students, without always knowing the answer themselves, is a learning teacher.

children at a computer

“Why should people from Sudan be concerned with the fish in the sea”, asks one of the students who rarely speak up. The question is posed after the students have been asked: “Du you believe over-fishing can lead to your needs not being covered in the future?” in a lab about sustainable development. In LearnLab, the “quiet ones” also get the possibility to train themselves in critical thinking and can compare their answers to what others are thinking. They get more active in their learning and make others think about new and unfamiliar contexts and situations.

After using LearnLab, I experience the class discussions as often being more in-depth of the themes than before, and I also learn more from the students. The students more often ask me questions that I do not know the answer to, and that is exciting! This makes me become a more wondering and curious teacher.

Of course, you decide for yourselves, but here is my advice for anybody who is using or is planning to use LearnLab:

1. It is when you participate actively that you become curious, so let the students work in pairs or groups with three students per device. This provides for extra processing of their understanding and increased the feeling of safety for the individual student.

2. Listen to the students and ask those follow-up questions you haven’t planned for in advance

3. Connect one lab or more to a theme you are working on. Run the lab until the “buzzing” sound in the classroom decreases, preferably not for more than 45 minutes at a time. Then you should rather continue with the lab at another time, to avoid stress and enable time to think.

Pål Berglund, 7th-grade teacher, October 2019